Adding Customer Value
Initiating a culture of ‘Continuous Improvement’ has a direct effect on all aspects associated with business success.
Giving an organisation what they want and maintaining that position
In this edition of Inside Track you will see my article on adopting 3rd party suppliers in order to gain ‘competitive advantage’. A good idea unless the process of adoption goes wrong. But, there are many reasons for change, creating both risks and opportunities. Further complications become apparent when you consider that ‘change’ that happens quickly holds the greatest benefits.
As obvious as this business practice may seem – unfortunately, situations arise time and again in which it is said, “The idea was good, but the implementation failed” …or…“We had a plan and it wasn’t rocket science, but we failed”.
These are accurate phrases heard throughout boardrooms across the world on a regular basis…but why?
Having been in commercial life for nearly forty years, and in business development for over thirty years, I have developed my own opinion on this. The textbooks will tell you it’s all about failure in resource planning, unclear goals, poorly defined project scope, inexperience, et cetera, and all of these and more are true. But that’s a little like saying, “I lost the race because I wasn’t fast enough”. That’s true but the problems started way before this.
The ‘bare bones’ of business success are…‘Giving an organisation what they want and maintaining that position’.
Removing the financial perspective for a moment, let’s focus on how the idea above (giving them what they want) is achieved. Easy to say, not so easy to do!
There are three main elements:
Customer Perspective – This is the most important element because only when the customer is totally satisfied that ‘he’ is receiving the best value at all times, will he remain with the you, the supplier. As soon as doubts creep in, the customer starts looking around the marketplace. Deal with customer complaints (although there shouldn’t be any, perhaps queries), provide good customer service. Introduce product and service developments. Keep them informed on market information. Be accurate and honest at all times. Give then the truth always. Employees should always resolve problems quickly, efficiently and be at the heart of customer service process.
Business Key Processes – These are the activities by the team that gives the customer the feeling that they’re getting what they want. The job of people like me is to identify the processes required for achieving customer objectives…this is true business development.* Successfully performing the same actions over and over again, with the same level of competency is no longer enough. Your company must develop a ‘continuous improvement method’. *(It’s a ‘bugbear’ of mine when businesses confuse business development with sales).
Learning & Talent for Growth –
There are two factors here:
i. In today’s difficult economic times, it seems every time you advertise a job there are hundreds of applicants giving you plenty of choice. The reality is, however, that few of these candidates will have the proven skills required to match the remit. Internal learning of existing employees is a good route to take, plus, it also helps raise staff morale. If employees see that there are opportunities for career flexibility and advancement, they are more likely to feel positive about their career prospects in their current job. For the customer, a stable and capable workforce is a pleasing and comfortable factor in business retention. However, as we know, fast, efficient change is the key to success, so if ‘learning’ is going to take too long, and the customer satisfaction level is at risk, then recruitment is necessary.
ii.The cornerstone of an organisation’s growth is the identification of good talent because it builds competitive advantage for the future. In today’s tricky economic environment, identifying and attracting highpotential employees can give employers an edge on their competition and set up their organisations for future success. An example here is the development of new internal processes that the current workforce is not capable of introducing and managing in an acceptable time frame.
For a company to grow, it needs a well-trained, highly skilled workforce, all working in harmony, with common goals that are clearly understood
For a company to grow, either through new product or service development, identification of new markets, increased costefficiencies et cetera, which all lead to competitive advantage and a strong value proposition, it needs a well-trained, highly skilled workforce, all working in harmony, with common goals that are clearly understood. A company achieving success in the three strategy objectives outlined above will grow as training initiatives and goals drive the attainment of strategic objectives. Invest in human resources (internal and external), bring in new blood when necessary, so as to develop new employee capabilities, information/knowledge systems, motivation and empowerment. The measure of how well your company is doing in achieving these objectives surfaces when you try to make a change…if it goes badly, it’s not because your 3rd party supplier messed up, nor is it because your salesperson failed to get the deal in a new market, it’s because you haven’t addressed the continuous improvement initiatives.